By Lou Baldwin

Special to The CS&T

SPRINGFIELD – Needs assessment and referral services. Counseling services. Pregnancy and parenting services. Elder care services. Budgeting classes. Supportive services for the homeless. Food cupboard referrals. A baby cupboard. Youth mentoring.

These services and more can be accessed either in-house or through referrals at the various Catholic Social Service Centers in the Archdiocese. All of the above were discussed Nov. 13 at the Springfield, Delaware County, Family Service Center during an open house attended by approximately 30 pastors, parish workers and volunteers engaged in the social ministry of the Church.

In the past fiscal year about 4,200 clients were served in Delaware County; 2,500 in Springfield and another 1,700 at the center in Chester, according to Gail McCoach, program manager in Springfield.

“The majority of our clients are coming out of material or financial needs. The elderly come to us because of life situations – losses they have experienced, changes that have come about medically, physically or emotionally that we can help them with,” she said.

Delaware County is becoming more and more spanerse, with people of many nationalities represented, and both the Springfield and Chester centers have bilingual staff who can assist clients who have limited English skills.

In today’s economy, the needs have become ever greater and CSS does everything it can to stretch available funds.

“We use volunteers as much as we can so that any donations that come to us are really maximized,” she said.

Area food cupboards are low, she noted, and “we are hoping that the holidays will bring out the generosity in people. Our clients’ needs increase as the economy worsens.”

The open house was suggested by Father George A. Majoros, regional vicar for Delaware County, after he made a visit himself. “I thought, we have to share this information,” he said. “The most important aspect of the centers is that all of the services to help people in need are really wrapped in our faith. When we help people in need they experience the compassionate and merciful Jesus reaching out to them.”

St. Joseph Sister Marge Drueding, director of Parish Services at St. Philomena Parish in Lansdowne, was already aware of most of the services available through the centers, but said, “I found it very informative and it was good to hear of them again. I work with a lot of elderly people with needs. They are lonely; they face financial needs, health needs, things of that sort.”

Deacon John Betzel from St. Joseph Parish, Aston, was looking at the lower end of the age spectrum.

“I’m mostly concerned about programs that affect young people, for example the mentoring program,” he said. “We are blessed, we don’t have as many needs as other communities. What I want to do with this is take it back to our young people, show them how they can reach out in their abundance and blessings to help in some way those who are less fortunate.

“I found this helpful,” said Irene McKenzie, who works in the psychiatric field and also volunteers at Sacred Heart Parish, Manoa. “I learned a lot about what’s available for parishioners in the parishes,” she said.

Lou Baldwin is a member of St. Leo Parish and a freelance writer.